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GUEST OPINION The Future of Mobile Marketing

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Andrew Rayner, co-founder of e-mphasis and a renowned internet marketing expert, explores the growing trend of mobile search and the revolutionary new concept of Google Places Optimisation – and offers some tips as to how to get people started on the m-retail journey through mobile marketing

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognise that mobile is a huge growth area. When Apple introduced the first iPhone the company really raised the bar, creating a step change in the ability for consumers to interact with mobile technology – and everyone had to have one (or a cheaper imitation!)

So, with this increased use of smart phones, focusing on your search marketing approach for mobile users is a smart move. Did you know, it is predicted that by 2013 more than 35% of all searches will be done on a mobile device? That’s either incredible growth in search, or, a massive transition from standard browser to mobile browsers…

So, what can you do to keep ahead in mobile marketing? What should your search marketing strategy include to be able to ride the mobile wave?

Well here are a few tips:

1. Your website needs to be readable and navigable on a mobile browser. There is no point having fantastic SEO and being at the top of search when up to 35% of the audience can’t even read your website because they are using a mobile! Smart brands will have a website that actually recognises if a browser is mobile or standard and therefore present the front end intelligently and differently based on the medium being used.

2. Mobiles often assume a location to search, and, using geo-location techniques, mobile search will more often than not return local results. To leverage this, your business not only needs a search marketing strategy that encompasses traditional SEO but also that includes local internet marketing…

Let’s look at that second point, local internet marketing, in a little more detail…

As we’ve acknowledged, approaching 35% of search will be done on a mobile device. Today it is estimated that there are over 3 billion searches on Google daily. As we’ve established mobiles are increasingly returning local search results. This means that Google alone could be returning a phenomenal 1 billion local search results to mobile browsers, daily, by 2013!

So, how are businesses going to be able to take advantage of this shift in search behaviour and what is the impact likely to be?

Today if you search Google on your standard PC browser for a product or service and add “in [your location]” to the search you will almost always be presented with a highly visual map to the left with a list of answers to your search adjacent to the map, the location of each reflected by a “pin” on the map. Essentially that models what you would get if you were searching ONLY for the product or service on a mobile browser which was able to understand, with geo-location, exactly where you were.

This is the top set of listings from Google Places (previously called Google Local Business Centre, a part of Google Maps). If you click for more results you may discover that beyond the say 3-10 presented on the top of the first page many hundreds, sometimes thousands, of listings for that product or service within a reasonable distance of the specified location, exist.

Businesses that take advantage of this shift in behaviour will be able to get ahead of the competition. The impact is likely to be a massive increase in the number of searches they appear in (impressions) and the subsequent click throughs / contacts made to their business. Extrapolating the benefit, business could quite literally leap-frog their competition at the local level if they take advantage of the opportunity now, before it has become saturated and heavily contested.

So, what is it about the few that achieve the oh-so desired top of page 1 position?

Basically it is down to the same critical assessment Google use in determining which websites are top of search in non-local search – that is relevancy. Listings are also more likely to be on the front page if they are complete – for example, if all the content fields are completed, if testimonials have been left, if images have been added and the web pages they link to reinforce this information. The few listings that make it to the first page have been assessed by Google to be of the most relevance in answer to the searchers search.

So what now?

Google Places Optimisation enables businesses to drill-down internet marketing to the lucrative and untapped potential of the ‘local’ customer. The key to getting found in an increasingly crowded marketplace will be leveraging the opportunities presented by concepts like Local Internet Marketing, Google Places Optimisation and mobile search marketing – all of which are about getting found for locally based search. Assuming you are found via mobile search it is imperative to have a useable, mobile-compatible website to engage with customers and enable them to continue their journey to a transaction with you.

Once you’ve got that sorted you’re well positioned to steal the march on your competition, particularly those who have not yet embraced the importance of optimisation at the local level – after all, global is simply the sum of many, many locals…

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